I think it’s safe to say that everyone has written about all of the popular touristy spots in London: the London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Borough Market etc. But what about the hidden treasures of London, the things you don’t hear about in all the brochures and that don’t commonly fall on the list of most instagramable spots in London.
It’s coming up to two years that I’ve lived in London now and I always have to think about what would I show people who came to visit and asked me to show them the real side of London. I came up with this list and knew I had to share it with you too!
Whether you’re here just visiting and want to experience something special or if you live here and need something new to do, here are some of the most unique underrated things to do in London!
20 Underrated Experiences in London
- Eat in the dark at Dans le Noir
- Play an escape room
- See a concert at the O2
- Ride the B Bakery Bus
- See a Sing-Along at Prince Charles Theatre
- Enjoy a Sunday Roast at The Defectors Weld
- Feed the parrots in Hyde Park
- Have a Full English Breakfast at Bad Egg
- Visit the Cyberdog shop in Camden
- Picnic in Battersea Park
- See the deer in Richmond Park
- Start a night out at Piano Works
- Walk around St Pancras Hotel
- See a movie at the Electric Cinema
- Attend church at St Paul’s on a Sunday
- Walk along Little Venice Canal
- Dance at Heaven Nightclub
- Watch a football/rugby match in a pub
- Eat and dance at Vegan Nights Lnd
- Unwind at Holland Park’s Kyoto Gardens
Eat in the dark at Dans Le Noir
‘Dining in pitch darkness, hosted and served by visually impaired people, may change your point of view about many preconceived ideas of the world. This unique experience will focus and sharpen your senses and enables you to taste a surprising wine & food experience adapted to this unusual context.’
Red, blue and green menus have been specially designed to cater to different dietary options at this unique restaurant in the heart of London. When you arrive, the waiters will explain to you how everything works and you’ll only get to see and know what you’ve just eaten after the experience is over.
A three-course meal costs around £63 and a night out like this is perfect for a fun date or a minimalist friendly birthday present experience for a loved one.
Play an Escape Room
An escape room is one of the best mentally stimulating and entertaining group activities that you can do. It immerses you into a story, almost like you’re in a movie or a video game, and you and your team have to solve a series of puzzles and riddles in order to escape the room before the time runs out.
There are several escape rooms to choose from in London, but if you’re into scary thriller type games, Enigma Escape has two rooms set around an exciting story of a jailbreak and murder. I did it with a group of friends and it definitely had our adrenaline pumping and unlocked (pun intended) some Sherlock Holmes skills we didn’t even know we had. And I did scream at least once.
Speaking of Sherlock Holmes, if you’re a fan of the famous English detective, then you absolutely need to visit the Sherlock Holmes escape room which is designed after the hit series staring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. It’s 100 minutes of puzzles, mind games and thrills for groups of 4 to 6 people.
See a Concert at the O2
Visiting the O2 arena for the first time is an experience in itself. It’s a massive shopping and restaurant complex with over 85 outlets, surrounding the main stage area that itself seats around 20,000 people!
My sister came to visit me in London for a weekend in January and it happened that The 1975 were in town so we went to watch their concert. It was an incredible experience! If you’re not too good with heights, I wouldn’t recommend getting a seat right at the top because it is quite steep!
They’ve got all different types of performances that are held in the arena, from international singing superstars concerts to professional UFC matches.
To find info on all the events going on at the O2, check their website!
Ride the B Bakery Bus
You all know about the iconic red double-decker buses of London. This one is something different. This awesome classic double-decker bus also features as a restaurant! The bus does tours of London at different times of the day while you enjoy an afternoon tea of scones, sandwiches and the whole shebang.
They’ve got different menus for different occasions, including a vegan menu but you have to book a few weeks in advance in order to get a good table. They even do tours for weddings or birthdays if you book well in advance.
To book your tour, visit their website!
See a movie Sing-Along at Prince Charles Theatre
Nothing says enjoying your favourite movie more than a sing-along. And what better way to sing along than with other people who know the words and want to belt them out with you!
Prince Charles Theatre organises incredible sing-alongs to all your favourite movies including The Greatest Showman, Grease and The Sound of Music. Complete with props and an introductory vocal warmup to get you in the mood, it’s definitely not something to miss.
I’ve personally been to see The Greatest Showman and The Sound of Music and I have to tell you it was the most moving, most interactive, most incredible cinematic experience I’ve ever had! It was just brilliant.
Enjoy a Sunday Roast at the Defectors Weld
Not having a Sunday roast while in London is like going to Disneyland and not seeing Mickey Mouse. It’s an outrage. Most pubs and English restaurants will have Sunday Roasts and some places even offer vegetarian and vegan roasts for those who don’t eat meat.
The defector’s pub was the first Sunday roast I went to in London and they do a mean one with vegetarian options as well!
Feed the parakeets in Hyde Park
Hyde Park is the biggest park in London and is known for hosting some of the biggest events and concerts in the city, from WinterWonderland in the winter and concert festival tours in the summer.
It’s also just as popular for a quiet picnic with some friends or a day date, on a warm sunny day, with some finger snacks and a card game or two. They’ve got little paddleboats in the water during the summertime and families are bustling about playing games and enjoying the sunshine.
To top it off, you might even spot the most adorable parakeets! They’re London’s own green little birdies which you can feed if you’ve got some extra crumbs.
Have a Full English Breakfast at Bad Egg
Whether your’re craving eggs benedict, fluffy pancakes or a the whole assortment of the full english for breakfast or brunch, Bad Egg near Liverpool Street will sort you right out!
They’ve got a super fun ambiance and their menu will leave you ready to explore even more of what this top European city has to offer.
You have to make a reservation for the weekends because they do tend to get very full but their menu is delicious.
Visit the Cyberdog Shop in Camden
Everyone who comes to London is told that they absolutely must visit Camden town for the best antiques, second-hand retro shops, quirky shops and delicious food at the market. But a trip to Camden is not complete without a wacky experience at the Cyberdog Shop.
You can’t miss it, it’s right at the entrance of Camden Town coming in from Chalk Farm Road.
You’ll see a giant robot standing guard outside and all you have to do is step foot inside to enter a completely different world of robotics, neon lights, glow in the dark features and some naughty surprises. After that you’ll be ready for a bite to eat at one of the mouthwatering restaurants or stalls in the Camden market.
Picnic in Battersea Park
Another one of London’s famous parks, Battersea park is often called a local oasis located on the South Bank of the Thames.
Opened in 1858, the area of reclaimed marshland is perfect for picnics and was made even especially child-friendly with the opening of a mini children’s zoo complete with a sandpit and friendly guides to introduce all the wonderful animals.
An extra bonus might come to those who are fans of the popular English boyband One Direction! Battersea Park was where they filmed the video for one of their hit songs ‘One Thing’.
See the deer in Richmond Park
Richmond Park is actually a National Nature Reserve just out of the middle of London and has had its resident deer roaming freely since 1637! It’s advised not to stray to close to the deer since although they are used to people, they are nevertheless still wild.
The park is 2500 acres of woodlands, gardens and lush lawn so there are lots to see in terms of wildlife and lots of space to run around for the kids. Ride a horse-drawn carriage, visit Kind Henry’s Mound for spectacular views of the Thames or peruse the Isabella Plantation to see lush and exotic flora.
The park is open to walk around 24/7 except at special times of the year.
Start a night out at Piano Works
London has one of the most thriving nightlife cultures in Europe but why not switch up your usual bar hopping and make your way to the only bar in London that has none stop live music all night. Played by bands and singers on a 6-piece band including 2 piano vocalists, this experience places a fantastic live twist on all your favourites.
And did I mention, they will be all YOUR favourites? Every single song played is requested by someone at the event. Simply write your song on the request slips and wait for the band to play your tune. We all know what it’s like to want to or try to request a song at a club but it never gets played. At Piano Works, you know they’re here to play only what you want to hear!
They have a bar in the West End and one in Farringdon. They’ve always got something different going on during the week and on special holidays so do head to their website to get all the details!
Peruse St Pancras Hotel
This hotel is not only famous for its stunning Renaissance architecture and interior design but because it was also the stage for one of the popular Spice Girls songs ‘Wannabe’ in 1996.
The hotel is connected to the very busy St Pancras International Train station, so you are free to walk in and have a wander or sit down for an afternoon tea and a game of chess. The area around St Pancras in King’s Cross is also a popular area with plenty to do including escape rooms and delicious vegan restaurants to dine at including the famous Mildreds.
See a movie at the Electric Cinema
Going to the cinema is great, and I’ve found most cinemas in London to be very comforable and a great experience. But! You definitely need to treat yourself at least once to the experience of a movie at the Electric Cinema. Enjoy the newest releases on full length beds and couches, not to forget the running bar at the back of the room.
My friends and I visited when Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again came out and we thought it was fabulous!
Attend church service at St Paul on Sunday
Even if you’re not religious, you’ll have to admit that there’s nothing more beautiful than a place of worship. Be it a Christian church, a Hindu temple or a Muslim Mosque, there’s something very humbling about the art surrounding places of worship and the faith in something metaphysical bigger than all of us that seems embedded in the very wall.s.
St Paul’s Cathedral is no exception and it’s a stunning piece of architecture that’s very prominent on the London skyline. If you are free on a Sunday morning, I’d definitely recommend attending a service at St Paul’s and more specifically to listen to the stunning choir sing their hymns. You can simply sit in the back and take it all in and it’s free to attend a service.
Walk along the Little Venice Canal
Literally named the Little Venice of London, this little quarter almost feels like a different world to the busy London city life just a few meters away.
People live in these beautiful houseboats, painted the most imaginative colours and designs and each has their own little slot on land in front of their boats where they’ve either set up a little garden, greenhouse or play area for the kids. I actually bumped into this place by accident the first time, having taken a walk starting at Camden Town along the canal, all the way past the London Zoo until we reached the little village. However, you can conveniently find it a 10 minute walk from Paddington station.
There are also plenty of canalside restaurants and pubs in the area or you can catch a puppet show at the Puppet Theatre Barge which is an actual theatre on a boat!
Dance the night away at Heaven
Quite literally the best gay nightclub in all the world, if you love a good time, you’ll love Heaven. Ditch the uncomfortable encounters with strangers and embrace a night surrounded by fabulous people all looking to do what nightclubs were made for: dancing till your feet are sore!
They’ve got Queens from the popular Rue Paul’s Drag Race that performs and they’ve even had stars like Troye Sivan and Rita Ora performing on their stage. All for very cheap tickets if you buy in advance. Drinks are a tiny bit on a pricey side but that’s London for you really so you may want to pre-drink before you go, but not too much because then the bouncers might not let you in! It’s a delicate game to be played. (Drink responsibly!)
Entrance is free if you put your name on the guest list in advance or you can get £1 wristbands from the nearby G-A-Y bar before 10pm on Fridays.
Watch a football match in a pub
There is nothing more British than sitting in a pub with a pint in the midst of a heated football or rugby match.
Order some pub food and just immerse yourself in the energy. The patrons sitting at the bar and the young lads and lasses sitting around the tables, a plate of chips within reach of their hands, and their eyes glued to the screens on the walls.
I’ve got a pub right by where I live and I happened to go in during the midst of a game and let me tell you, even if you aren’t a fan of the pub scene, it is something you should do at least once.
Eat and Dance at Vegan Nights London
Imagine a massive party in Brick Lane with vegan food stalls and vegan cocktails and just lots of cruelty-free environmentally friendly merriment all around. Whether you’ve been vegan for 10 years, just joined the lifestyle or are curious to see what it’s all about, tickets are £7 online to attend the party every Thursday night!
There’s always something new to marvel the tastebuds, be it pizza, buffalo wings, hot dogs and international foods, all plant-based and cruelty-free! And every week has a different theme.
You might even spot some of your favourite vegan London Instagrammers! It’s definitely worth your night to come and be a part of the up and coming culture of delicious plant-based ways of life.
Unwind at Holland Park’s Kyoto Gardens
Just as the name suggests, Kyoto Gardens are a serene Japanese inspired garden in the famous Holland Park in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It’s perfect for a quiet day of relaxation, taking in nature and some much needed fresh air in what can otherwise be a very busy city.
The gardens sit around the ruins of the 17th century Holland House which was historically the home of diplomats and powerful families throughout history. It was opened in 1991 and was actually a gift from the city of Kyoto to commemorate the long friendship between Japan and Britain.
Open from 7.30 am until 10 minutes before dusk, the gardens are free to visit and they have the most stunning peacocks just roaming around having a ball of a time. The gardens aren’t far from Kensington Palace so if you do have some spare time you could make your way there as well for an extra bit of sightseeing.
Any Londoners think that I should have added something else to my list? Let me know in the comments.
Sit back, grab some oreos and I can’t wait to see what life has to offer us next!